How do tobacco smoke compounds impair lung surfactant?
Initial Award Abstract The surface of human lungs where gas exchange occurs are lined by a unique mixture of soap-like molecules mixed with specific proteins. This mixture, called lung surfactant, forms a single molecular layer film that reduces the effort required to breathe by more than 90% (compared to the energy required without the layer). In other words, without functional lung surfactant, normal breathing is impossible. The surfactant layer is also one of the first lines of defense against lung injury and disease. Even though this surfactant layer is directly exposed during smoking, the effect of smoking on the essential chemical and mechanical properties of the lung surfactant layer are unknown. In this project, we will use a simple model of the lung surface to see the effects of the most reactive components of tobacco smoke – called oxidizers. Using an artificial surfactant model system, we can see this single molecular layer using an optical microscope by adding a small amoun